Monday, March 24, 2008

Good Mail Give-Away

Who doesn't love good mail? I'm talking about packages and cards that don't resemble a bill or junk mail in any way. A few weeks ago I got this fun box from my brother and his wife. Before I opened it, I immediately coveted the return address stamp and vowed to find out where they got it so I could order one for myself. Upon opening the box I was so delighted to find my very own personalized return address stamp as a thank you gift for a shower I helped put together for Ashley and their new baby last fall. If you want one for yourself, visit Three Designing Women to find a location near you that sells them. I still get giddy when I use it and leave it on my counter where I can gaze appreciatively at it when it is not in use. Thanks Matt and Ashley!!! I love the techno-age we live in with blogs and email and instant communication, but in some ways I lament the downfall of real post. I'm trying to be better about sending cards and other good mail... watch for some to come your way!

In light of that....
I finally finished my cards for the "Pay It Forward" challenge on my blog several weeks ago... and I figured I might as well make an extra package and do another give-away here to encourage others to send good mail too. Each package has 12 cards in it--three of each of the cards shown above. They are all blank inside (click here for a funny video clip about blank inside cards by comedian Brian Regan). The 2nd from right has a little blue rectangle that you can leave blank or write in a word to personalize the card ("Baby" or "Birthday" or "Hello"--you get the drift). All you have to do to be eligible for this drawing is leave a comment on this post by March 31st and I'll use a random generator to choose the winner. I know some of my readers don't have a gmail account and thus don't leave comments... now is the time to sign up... or if you still don't want to... you can email me your desire to be entered to win. I will mail or hand deliver the cards to you--if you live in an exotic, foreign location, of course I'd prefer to hand deliver, so please make sure to leave a way for me to contact you, and if you have a couch for me to sleep on, that would be great too :). If you were one of the Pay It Forward pledgers, your cards are in the mail or will be delivered shortly!

**Do you like getting good mail?
**Do you get giddy when you use fun things like my new return address stamp?
**Do you want to be entered to win the package of cards?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wii for Rock Star Ryan!!!

So, Ryan is a rock star... he just won a Nintendo Wii from 101.9 The End by correctly naming 12 "crazy" songs that were in a 10 second montage. This was no small feat and couldn't have been done without all the help from co-workers Troy and Michael (shout out to you both!). All three of them won gift certificates to GameCrazy along the way and Ryan was the lucky one to get through today with the all the correct answers... we are so excited!

**Have you ever won anything on the radio?
**Do you have a favorite game for the Wii?
**Did you know that many people are reporting stress-type injuries from using the Wii?
**Do you want to come to our Wii parties?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Luck O' The Irish

We had some sneaky leprechauns get into our house on St. Patrick's Day... they left us a box of Lucky Charms and some new green shirts. Olivia wanted so badly to catch one of them, but none of us saw them! Coleman swears he heard them sneaking around under his bed though. They also turned our toilet water green, and the milk in our fridge! Can you imagine the nerve??? Olivia made sure that we all wore green pajamas to bed so that the leprechauns wouldn't get under our covers and pinch us.
Coleman asked if the leprechauns were real, and answered his own question by saying that he had it all figured out, Santa Claus sent his elves out dressed up like leprechauns and they are the ones that got into our house. In this picture he is showing off his newfound ability to roll his tongue--does it resemble anything??

Today the kids tried to set traps to catch them in the back yard, but I'm quite sure those pesky buggers won't be back until next year.
Handsome guys in green, wouldn't you say?

Coleman's quip: This morning we were reading our scripture (John 15:26: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.") and I asked the kids to figure out two other names for the Holy Ghost. After reading it a few times, Olivia identified the Spirit of Truth and I was trying to help Coleman come up with "Comforter". I told him it started with a "C" just like his name and I read it again. He said, "Oh, I know! It's customer!" We had a good little chat about the Comforter and I think it's all clear to him now :).

**Did any leprechauns sneak into your house on St. Patrick's Day???

Sunday, March 16, 2008

A New Kind of Prayer Rock

Coleman has a cute new Primary teacher (shout out to you Debi!) and he came home from church today with this prayer picture of our family. Since it's not readily apparent where we all are in the picture, I asked him to explain it to me.

A. The large person in the center that has a nose and no eyes would be me. At first I thought I was a cyclops mama, but Coleman informed me that it is a nose in the middle of my face, not a big eye, because if I didn't have a nose, I wouldn't be able to smell. Apparently the lack of eyes is not a concern :).
B. This is Ryan--and Coleman says that he is ready to "jump off and go to work".
C. That's Coleman, sitting on my shoulders (doesn't every kid sit on his mom's shoulders during family prayer?).
D. This is Olivia... and according to Coleman "she turned into a rock" to which Olivia promptly replied that she could turn into a rock and showed us by curling into a ball on the ground and putting her blanket over her resembling, well, a rock.
E. Coleman told us that this is a new baby in our family.
F. This is the box the baby came in (according to Coleman), because we can't seem to get one the normal way, so we had to "buy one at the store".

What I wouldn't give to get inside that kid's head and see how things tick.

**Did you ever get a prayer rock?
**Do you know any stores that sell babies? Coleman would really like a baby (brother) so that he has someone to play Lego Star Wars with, all the time. We'd like one too, of course.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Quotable Quotes

One of the best gifts I got before leaving on my LDS mission was a small book of quotes from my dear cousin Janelle. She had written a few of her favorites in it, and left plenty of pages for me to write new ones. I used the book throughout my mission and still refer to the uplifting, encouraging, and inspiring words. As Ryan's cousin is ready to depart, I thought I'd pass the tradition along, so I found a really cool journal that I want to write in and send to her. I'd love to put in as many great quotes as I can, so I'm asking for YOUR help. If you have a great quote (missionary or otherwise), please share it in the comments...

Coleman's quips of the day: "I think we should call me 'Coleman the Smart'!" (3/12/08)

"Look Mom, my tongue looks like a bum!" (as he rolled his tongue--and he was right, it did in fact look like a bum... 3/11/08)

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Happy Birthday to Ryan!

Ryan turned 31 today--still a young buck. Every year he gets a made-from-scratch German Chocolate cake for his birthday (and I usually let him know how much work it is... it seriously dirties every dish in the kitchen, some of them twice!) so yesterday I set out to make it. I followed the recipe just as I do every year, but for some reason it was a total flop. The only difference was that I used cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. It didn't raise very well and it totally stuck to the sides (which I greased well!) and was so thin in some spots that it fell apart when I lifted it. I tried to do a little magic with the frosting--but I can honestly say that it was the ugliest cake I've made, ever. Ryan was of course very nice to me and assured me many times that it was yummy and looked good, and since he's the birthday boy, I'll let it rest at that. I was almost ready to start over again, but didn't have all the ingredients. Oh well... there's always next year!

We spent the afternoon with Ryan's cousin Jen (who spoke in her sacrament meeting today because she is leaving on her mission to North Carolina) and our family. A couple of days ago Ryan and I went with some friends to dinner at PF Changs (love the crispy honey chicken there!) and then to Wiseguys, a comedy club in Orem for their hypnotist show. I'm pretty skeptical about being hypnotized myself, but very willing to watch and laugh at others who let themselves get hypnotized. The group was pretty small (maybe 25 people, tops) so the hypnotist tried to hypnotize the whole crowd in order to get a few up on stage. I really tried to relax (maybe half-heartedly?) but found myself peeking at others while I should have been imagining a beautiful large balloon lifting my left hand. Imagine my surprise when I saw Ryan's hand in mid-air and his head slumped over. So out of the whole group, three were invited on stage and one of them was Ryan! The two others were weeded out, so Ryan was the lone hypnotized man on stage. The hypnotist was very humble and said it had never happened that there weren't enough people on stage for a show. He played with Ryan a little bit--Ryan couldn't recall his own name for the life of him and had a rubber nose for a few minutes--but then dismissed us all with tickets to return another night. It was pretty humorous!!

All in all we had a fun birthday weekend to celebrate my Ryan's birthday. He is so good to all of us and we are so glad that he was born 31 years ago!

**What do you think went wrong with my cake?
**Have you ever been hypnotized (do you believe in it?)?
**Do you want to go to Wiseguys with us next time we go to they hypnotist show?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Oh So Sweet

We had a shower for my cousin Nate's wife Missy and her sweet baby girl. My new favorite thing for showers is doing a candy bar (see the boy's version here), and this one was especially fun since it was just after Valentine's Day. There were lots of fun pink, brown, and white candies and a plethora of Dove chocolates.
Just a few days later, I got to tour a heavenly place with Coleman's preschool class.
We went on a field trip to Sweet's Candy Factory in Salt Lake. We all had to wear highly fashionable hairnets during the tour, and Coleman's was slanted off to one side, so it looked like a beret. He's pretty dang cute, if I do say so myself. Not too sure who the glassy eyed little girl is to the right... but she may have ingested one too many salt water taffies. We got to sample a jelly bean before they put the hard candy shell on it (surprisingly yummy!) and we saw how they make molded candies like cinnamon bears. Did you know that they fill a pan with cornstarch and level it off, then dip a hard mold into the corn starch to make the form of the bear/santa/lips (or whatever shape they want to make), then they pour the liquid gelatin candy into the cornstarch--once it is set, they tumble the candies and vacuum off all the cornstarch. Who knew??? I was flabbergasted and will now eat cinnamon bears and other molded candies with newfound awe and understanding. They gave each of the kids (and parent helpers :)) a bag of taffy for going on their tour. Yum! **What is your favorite field trip memory?
**Have you toured a candy factory before?
**What's your favorite kind of candy?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Olivia's Piano Recital (March)

Olivia was feeling a little nervous for this recital since she would be playing her songs ("Alouette" and "Russian Sailor Dance") all by herself (Ryan did a duet with her last time). So we held a formal dress rehearsal, and Olivia made these tickets (left) and a recital poster (right) to get ready for the big event.
Olivia with Grandma Stover (my mom) who came down for the recital. Liv was very glad she could come!

Here are Grandpa Gee Gee and Grandma Jan with Olivia. They brought her a bouquet of flowers and treated us all to ice cream at the BYU Creamery after the recital. It was so fun to see them!

I forgot to bring our camcorder, but our little camera takes video too, so we were able to record it. This is actually the second time around (after everyone left) because I had turned the camera to take video the vertical way, which doesn't rotate once you transfer it to the computer. Good thing Ryan was there to make sure we got a good recording! She did a great job and had both of her pieces memorized. Way to go Liv, we are proud of you!

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Sister of My Heart

Sister of My Heart (by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni) was our pick for our Book Club in February and it was wonderful--several of us breezed through it in less than 3 days because it was so captivating. It is a beautifully written tale of two young girls in India who are distant cousins, but circumstances have it so they grow up in the same home with their widowed mothers and a childless, widowed aunt (the girls call them "the mothers" which I think is very funny). They are so tightly bonded to each other--a bond that is stronger than friendship, and even stronger than most family bonds. It was told through both girls' points of view and the reader is given insight to their deepest feelings, particularly the sacrifices that they are willing to make for each other. The men in the story for the most part are jerks and some of the women have no honor either. It was intriguing (and sad) to learn about some of their customs and traditions. As many books do, reading this made me so grateful for the freedoms I enjoy and for the opportunities that we have as women in the United States (for example, choosing my spouse instead of having an arranged marriage and carrying my female baby to term).

At Book Club we wondered if a relationship like that would be possible in the United States and discussed the ways that we value independence in our culture. While independence is definitely a blessing, there is something to be said for the ability to depend on someone so much that they are a part of you. I think that in our culture it doesn't happen often, if we have a spouse, they are probably the one we have the closest relationship with. I have been blessed with many sisters and wonderful friends that I am very close to--but it would be hard for me to say that one of them knows me inside and out like the characters in this book. I think also that the types of sacrifices they had to make for each other are not necessary in the way of life that we know. One of the ladies there told me later that she shared a relationship like this with her mom, but the rest of us at Book Club didn't feel like we had it or were likely to develop it.

**Is there someone that is a "sister of your heart"?
**Do you have any friends/family members that you have had to make huge sacrifices for? Has it brought you closer together?
**Don't you think our Book Club is good-looking? (our hostess that night (Kathryn) is the oldest in the group and she had her mom there --Kathryn is on the back row with white hair and her mom is sitting in the rocking chair). I don't think her mom's hearing was too good, which was probably a good thing since our book club discussion usually goes way off-topic by the end of the night :)). Kathryn brings wisdom and experience to our Book Club which is otherwise made up of youngish women with small children, and she recommends great books, like this one.

I really recommend this book--it's wonderful (with a little colorful language, but not much). I look forward to reading more from the same author.